New week new No. 1, BCS polls, PAC-10 realignment, and big games of the week.
Sentinel Sports Writer
Well, that didn’t last long.
Oklahoma’s stint as the nation’s top ranked team lasted all of one week, after it lost at Missouri and became the third No. 1 to drop from the coveted spot in successive weeks.
In what is becoming a pattern, the Sooners took its No. 1 ranking into a hostile visiting stadium against a ranked conference opponent, and left with a loss after being beaten by Missouri, 36-27.
Oklahoma joined Alabama and Ohio State, who both lost the prior two weeks at South Carolina and Wisconsin, respectively, as former No. 1’s who will likely need help if they want another shot at playing for the national title.
Cashing-in on the misfortune of the three teams however, are a bunch of squads with their own championship aspirations. One of which is the Bowl Championship Series’ new No. 1: Auburn.
After beating a talented LSU team, it’s hard to argue with Auburn’s three-spot leap to the top ranking, especially after it finds a way to win games in the tough South East Conference.
Oregon, No. 1 in the human polls, will be on upset alert this Saturday at USC and Auburn travels to Mississippi to play the Rebels.
The past weekend also included Auburn’s quarterback taking the lead in the Heisman race, Michigan State remaining undefeated with a late rally and the Pac-10 officially realigning for next season.
Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton compiling big rushing numbers has become commonplace this college football season. However, his more than 200 yards in a 24-17 win against LSU was punctuated by a spectacular third quarter run.
Newton, who is 6-feet-6 and 250 pounds, broke off an athletic 49-yard touchdown run, avoiding and breaking LSU tackles, on his way to putting Auburn ahead, 17-10. If Newton captures the Heisman, the run will surely go down as his signature moment.
Missouri’s jubilant students stormed the field and carried the goal post into the stands and out of the stadium after the Tigers knocked off Oklahoma.
Prior to Missouri’s students carrying the uprights away, Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert carried his team to victory after it trailed 21-20 after three quarters.
Gabbert’s cool under pressure approach seemed to rub off on his teammates as the Tigers reached 7-0 for the first time in 50 years and garnered a No. 6 BCS ranking.
Another undefeated team, Michigan State, needed some late game heroics as it squeaked by a tough Northwestern team on the road, 35-27.
The Spartans, who improved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, seemingly find different ways to win every week, and Saturday wasn’t any different.
Michigan State fell behind 17-0 in the first half, and was down 24-14 after the third quarter. But the fifth ranked Spartans proved to be resilient by outscoring the Wildcats 21-3 in the fourth, including two touchdowns in the final two minutes.
Nebraska’s freshman quarterback, Taylor Martinez, rebounded nicely from a horrible performance against Texas by leading the ‘Huskers to a 51-41 win at Oklahoma State.
Martinez, known for his running ability, finished 23 of 35 for 323 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He didn’t abandon the ground game completely. Martinez had 19 carries for 112 yards.
Last week in a press conference, it was announced that the Pac-10 Conference will officially add Utah and Colorado next year and be renamed the Pac-12.
The Pac-12 will be comprised of a North and South Division, where the winners at season’s end, will compete in a conference championship game at the site of the team with the best record.
USC and UCLA will be in the South along with the Arizona schools, Utah and Colorado. The Oregon and Washington schools will join Stanford and California in the North.
Pac-10 Commissioner, Larry Scott, who has been on the job for more than a year, has talked about building the conference into a “global brand.”
Scott took another step toward that goal by expanding the league’s roster, thereby guaranteeing a conference championship game. The Pac-10 was the last major BCS conference to not hold a season-ending championship.
There were a number of highlights from the Pac-10 announcement that I think are positive, but there are also drawbacks.
A highlight was USC and UCLA’s insistence that their rivalries with Stanford and California remain intact. The conference’s athletic directors obliged, despite the schools being in separate divisions, and the L.A. schools will play the Bay Area universities each season.
The Pac-10’s unique round robin schedule will be jettisoned unfortunately, and teams will now play five games within their divisions and four cross-divisional contests. Not having a chance to play the L.A. schools every season may hurt recruiting for teams in the North, who rely on Southern California heavily for players.
On the plus side, the Pac-12 will benefit due to the likelihood of increased revenue, and Scott has talked about securing a national network package for the league.
Most Pac-10 games are televised on Fox Sports’ regional network, but Scott said he would like to sign a deal akin to the Big Ten Network, Notre Dame’s NBC deal or the SEC’s CBS contract.
The added exposure won’t hurt his efforts. Overall, it’s a win-win for everybody.
Big games this week
When names like Lee Corso and Desmond Howard are on your campus Saturday morning, chances are, you’re at the center of the college football world’s attention that day.
ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast from the Coliseum before the Oregon-USC game. The Trojans, fresh off a bye week, will be playing the unfamiliar underdog role as it attempts to pull the upset.
Sixth ranked Missouri will play at No. 14 Nebraska; Michigan State will visit No. 18 Iowa and No. 8 Utah faces Air Force on the road.